Edmond O'Brien is Mal Granger, a telephone company worker with a keen knowledge of electronics who feels he is wasting his time at his job.
His small time bookie introduces Mal to Vince Walters (Barry Kelley) who runs a small time operation with horse racing and a betting circuit. Walters hires Granger to improve communications for him and soon Granger has him nationwide and making millions.
Walters has Granger become his number 2 man and when Walters is shot and killed by a terrified man who owes him a lot of money, Granger immediately takes over. Slowly he builds an almost unstoppable empire of crime that is at constant war with the police and the Government, but soon a new enemy moves in.
the East Coast crime syndicate wants to take over the gambling west of Kansas and they spot Granger and his operations. This sets up a great war of wits that nobody will win.
This is an excellent film noir directed by Joseph Newman and O'Brien is really very good in his starring role. The epic final at Hoover Dam is remarkable in that director Newman makes such a huge place seem so confining and inescapable.
The supporting cast for this great genre entry includes Joanna Dru, Dorothy Patrick, Don Porter, Robert Osterloh and Otto Kruger as Carl Stephens, the head of the east coat operation that wants to take over. Kruger is very memorable in the role.
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